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How to Whiten Yellowed Sheets

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By Marci Palm

My Laundry Question

I have some poly/cotton blend sheets that have yellowed while in storage. They were quite white when I put them in storage in a cardboard box. Will chlorine bleach help or cause more yellowing?

Share a Little Background Info

The yellowing is generalized, no stains. I do know that chlorine bleach tends to yellow some white fabrics, but not sure which fabric content does this. I thought polyester was one that does yellow with chlorine bleach, but not sure.

Lessons Learned

  • Have not tried anything yet. I have seen yellowing caused by bleach and did not want to make my problem worse.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

60% cotton and 40% polyester

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

You have very good instincts. Because of the polyester fibers in the sheets, chlorine bleach will cause yellowing. It should only be used on cotton fibers and in small amounts.

To whiten your sheets, use an oxygen based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach ) . Mix a solution, following the directions on the package, in warm water. Submerge the sheets and allow them to soak overnight. Then, wash as usual.

Storing linens in cardboard causes the yellowing as the acid from the paper is transferred to the fabric. Choose a plastic container made of cast polypropylene to be safe for fabrics. Look for the #5 within the recycling triangle or the letters “PP” to be sure that you have the correct type of box.

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